A scene from //Prelude to Axanar//

Backlash

Main article: Axanar Tries to Rally Fan Films to Its Proposed Guidelines
See also: Peters Accuses Guidelines Leaker and ‘Intrepid’ Suspends Production.

In the aftermath of Axanar producer Alec Peters’ disclosure of fan producers who were involved, most productions publicly disavowed Peters' attempt to bolster his settlement position in the lawsuit brought by CBS and Paramount Pictures.

Axanar producer Alec Peters

With the studios reportedly considering guidelines for fan films, Peters reached out to more than nine fan productions during the week of May 23, 2016, seeking their support of rules Peters wanted the studios to accept.

Disavowals

Publication by AxaMonitor of the draft guidelines, combined with Peters’ own release of the fan producers’ names,1) spurred almost all of them to issue statements distancing themselves from Peters’ efforts.

Naming Names

After AxaMonitor asked for a comment from the production regarding the draft guidelines prior to their publication on May 27, Axanar spokesman Morey Altman said:

Just to be clear, these aren’t “Alec’s Guidelines.” They were developed by 8 fan film producers.
SUSPENDS PRODUCTION The long-running Star Trek: Intrepid suspended production in the wake of the Axanar lawsuit and uncertainty over production guidelines. Pictured: Producer, writer and star Nick Cook (left) and co-star Michael Cugley.

However, most of those producers characterized their involvement as merely commenting on draft guidelines provided them by Peters.

“None of us fan-filmmakers wrote any of those guidelines that were posted,” said Yorktown producer John Atkin. “We simply made suggestions to Alec as to what (we felt) should be taken out of the draft we were shown.”2)

Even so, Peters went on to publicly name the producers in an early-morning interview with pro-Axanar blogger Dave Heagney Jr.


« It would appear the reason for releasing the names is to create a false appearance of support for Peters and Axanar as a means to strengthen their negotiating position. » Starbase Studios statement

Fan Production Statements

The following are the public statements, almost all outright disavowals or distancing from Peters’ efforts or Axanar in general. 3)

Not Supporting Axanar's Draft Guidelines

Click on production name to view statement.

Star Trek: Continues
Invited to participate but did not take part.

“For the record, Star Trek Continues is ABSOLUTELY NOT part of any discussion regarding these guidelines, nor will we ever be,” stated co-producer Lisa Hansell. “Todd [Haberkorn] was sent the guidelines UNSOLICITED. The end. :)”4)
New Voyages
Invited to participate but did not take part.

“No thanks,” executive producer James Cawley told Peters via text. “Not interested in being involved in any way.”5)
Star Trek: Intrepid
Took part in the Facebook group chat.

“I want to make myself quite clear on this point; Star Trek is the property of CBS/Paramount. As fans we have no standing and no rights to play in that sandbox,” producer Nick Cook posted on his Facebook page. “The owners of Star Trek have been nothing but graceful and accepting of fan works over the last fifteen years and they have every right to decide where the line is drawn on such things. We do not.”6)
Star Trek: Dark Armada
Not invited to participate

Unlike other fan productions, executive producer Robin Hiert took a position early on in the Axanar controversy:

[Dated December 31, 2015] “Yesterday the news reached us about CBS and Paramount launching legal action against Axanar, a crowdfunded fan production,” Hiert posted on the Dark Armada website. “This is why I, as the executive producer of Star Trek Dark Armada, feel the need to explain the differences between Axanar and our production and that we in no way support or approve of the actions taken by Axanar or their producer Alec Peters.

“Let me start by saying we don’t accept any kind of financial support by anyone other than our own production team. Everything we produce is funded by our own production members, out of our own pockets. In other words, a fan production; made by the fans and offered to all the fans in the world for free. You could say we are one of the most loyal Star Trek fanclubs, keeping fans engaged with Star Trek without any kind of financial transaction. (Heck… we don’t even advertise on Youtube or our websites in order to avoid receiving any external funds)

“There is an unwritten rule between CBS/Paramount and fan films saying that we are allowed to produce these films as long as there is no profit or commercial gain. Many fan producers, including myself, think this rule is of ‘paramount’ importance to be able to continue doing what we enjoy doing so much.

We actively advise starting productions to keep this in mind and to avoid asking for donations or crowfunding, because of the negative effects it could have on them or even other productions. Some take our advice to heart, but others, like Axanar, unfortunately ignore it.

“Let me be very clear on this again. We disapprove the actions of Axanar. In our opinion their crowdfunding campaigns should be temporarily suspended until this situation is resolved.

“We will continue with our production of Star Trek Dark Armada without any financial support as we have done for the past 10 years until we are told otherwise by CBS/Paramount.”7)

Starship Valiant
Took part in the Facebook group chat.

“Yes, I was invited to participate in building guidelines that I felt would help the fan film community overall as a group,” said producer Michael L. King, “and although the actual guidelines listed in this article were completed and forged without my input, (as I was sick during the process), I did in fact make a few suggestions as to two of the seven listed.

Then I was messaged by a friend this morning and told that our ‘private’ discussion had been made public. Apparently, someone in the group cut & pasted our discussion and shared it with another person that I personally have never heard of, to the bewilderment of myself and my good friend Scott Johnson. Honestly, I feel that the group of people in this ‘chat’ were used and manipulated and I am not and will not be a part of any legal dealings with Paramount/CBS vs. Axanar.

“To this end, I am publicly stating that Starship Valiant will play by any rules that the powers that be make. I am very thankful that Valiant has been allowed to play in the Trek universe. The below article [the Hubcap Dave blog] was printed without my consent and I was not asked to be a part of it or to be mentioned in it.”.8)
Starbase Studios
Took part in the Facebook group chat.

“It has been reported in several articles today that Starbase Studios is part of a group put together by Alec Peters of Axanar, to draft a set of fan film guidelines to be submitted to CBS studios as part of the lawsuit settlement. Scott Johnson, one of the studio owners, was contacted and agreed to view the proposed guidelines but never responded or submitted an opinion on them.

“The articles published this morning seems to imply that Starbase Studios, and fan productions that film at the studio, have joined Peters and Axanar in their defense against the CBS/Paramount lawsuit. The names of the individuals and groups who have agreed to preview the proposed guidelines was released without consent. It would appear the reason for releasing the names is to create a false appearance of support for Peters and Axanar as a means to strengthen their negotiating position.

FOR THE RECORD:
“Starbase Studios has tried to remain publicly neutral on the Axanar lawsuit. We are now forced to state that we are in full support of CBS and Paramount on this matter and have always been willing to comply with any statements, rulings, guidelines they may issue. We have no doubt that CBS/Paramount are the true copyright owners of the Star Trek franchise and respect their ownership of the property. We are also grateful to CBS/Paramount for allowing us to support the Star Trek franchise in our own way.

“In an effort to keep any productions filmed at the studio from overstepping bounds of fan films, we have publicly listed a set of guidelines on our website that we insist the productions follow. These guidelines were issued by a former crew member of New Voyages/Phase 2 and have served well so far but we will adapt to whatever new guidelines CBS/Paramount sees fit to issue.

“Another inaccuracy in the article states that the studio produces several fan films. The studio itself produces only one film but invites any other productions to use our sets. These other productions are not under control of the studio and although we insist they follow the set guidelines, we can not be responsible for their releases or anything added after filming at the studio is complete.”9)
Star Trek: Anthology
Not invited to participate.

“I have been lucky enough to be involved with several fan productions over the years who have enjoyed a friendly relationship with CBS/Paramount by honoring their Intellectual Property,” Star Trek: Anthology creator Jim Bray said in a news release. “Now as creator of Anthology, I understand that it is by the graciousness of CBS/Paramount that I get to create stories in the Star Trek universe. I have reviewed Alec Peter’s proposed guidelines and reject them. Star Trek Anthology recognizes CBS/Paramount’s Intellectual Property and will abide with whatever guidelines they put forth.”10)
Star Trek Potemkin
Contacted by Peters but not invited to participate.11)

“I can assure you that most fan film production teams, including us “little guys,” are not on board with these guidelines either,” stated producer Randall Landers. “Potemkin Pictures has been very straightforward in our policies. We have expressed them plainly and succinctly elsewhere. But be assured, we do not stand with Axanar nor Alec Peters. We stand with the fans.”12)
The Lexington Adventures
Not invited to participate.

“For all who may wish to know The Lexington Adventures stands with CBS and Paramount! We have and WE WILL NEVER side with Alec Peters and Axanar,” said executive producer Justin Burton. “We have tried to remain neutral in all of this but considering the studio that we use to film in (Starbase Studios) name has got drug into this mess we felt we had to respond as we are attached to Starbase Studios.

“We will abide by Starbase Studios’ guidelines which are the unofficial CBS guidelines that got e-mailed to Phase 2 Patty Wright a while back. They are posted [at] http://www.starbasestudios.net/cbs.html and on Trekbbs.

“We support CBS/Paramount and hope for FAIR guideline announcement. If they so choose to shut us down then we will thank them and move on to other things. This is their sandbox and they have been wonderful to let us fans play in it as long as we have.13)
Starship Melbourne
Not invited to participate.

“I’ve been involved with Starbase Studios since December of 2013, and with Starship Valiant as a main cast member early on,” the production stated on its Facebook page. “When I decided to start my own production with Melbourne I knew that I would have obstacles. But nothing has put any of the productions in jeopardy like this whole business of Axanar.

“I’ve never gone on record to bash anyone, I’ve nothing against Mr Peters, nor his production. But it seems as if every time there is some calming of the storm, something associated with him kicks the hornets nest. It’s hard to tell what’s the truth because nothing adds up. He does not speak for any of us in Melbourne. I make fan films. I work 72 hours a week and drive 4 hours to the studio to film. When I filmed with Starship Valiant in the sickbay scene, I was up for 36 hours before finally getting to sleep. I did everything out of passion. Not a paycheck.

“I may lose fans or friends and I’m fine with that, but what he’s done has made things worse for those of us who just want to make some fun trek for ourselves. I’ve seen the vile talk from both sides of the Axanar side, and honestly that’s not what we should be doing. That’s not how we should be treating each other. We make fan films. We should have no agenda. We should have no hidden motive. We’re should just be living our dream. I speak for myself, and my film. No one speaks for me.”14)
Project NCC–1703
Not invited to participate.

“The official stand of our production is that we are currently and have always followed the Unofficial Guidelines used by the other productions at Starbase Studios and will comply with any requests from CBS or Paramount in that regard.”15)
Star Trek: Excelsior
Not invited to participate.

“For the past few months, there’s been a drama playing out across the whole community of Star Trek fan productions,” the production stated on its Facebook page. “We at Excelsior have stayed out of it, but we are no longer able to do so. This is a long post, and it has absolutely nothing to do with what this page is actually about – making new episodes of Excelsior for you to enjoy – so, if you want to skip it, get out now.

“Last December, CBS/Paramount filed suit against another fan production, Star Trek “Axanar.” CBS/Paramount had plenty of reasons for filing suit; Axanar had grossly abused the trust CBS/Paramount places in fan films to stay within certain informal guidelines. Axanar, a for-profit corporation in California, used money raised from fans for Star Trek Axanar to construct a studio, then announced their intent to rent this studio out to for-profit film projects. They branded themselves, not as a fan film, but as an “independent Star Trek film.” They sold coffee, branded with Star Trek intellectual property, through a for-profit third-party retailer that then “donated” some of the proceeds from their coffee sales back to Axanar. They paid their Executive Producer, Alec Peters, a $38,000/yr salary, which flies in the face of the most important traditions of Star Trek fan filmmaking. Mr. Peters was warned by some, including some involved with Excelsior, that he was playing with fire, putting all fan productions at risk. There is reason to believe that he was warned by some at CBS as well. Heedless, Peters continued his activities. The lawsuit finally came just days after Axanar’s financial report confirmed that Peter’s was, indeed, paying himself a salary from fan donations.

“Ever since Axanar was served papers, Mr. Peters has done all in his power to either (a) rally other fan productions to his cause or (b) throw them under the CBS/Paramount bus. None, to my knowledge, has rallied to Axanar, and so Axanar has done an awful lot of bus-throwing instead. For example, Peters and Axanar have consistently argued that what Axanar did is not significantly different from what other major fan productions do. These claims deliberately tried to use other, innocent productions as “human shields” against CBS/Paramount. Even if the claims were true, this would constitute a serious breach of the trust and respect between fan producers. And they were not true; it is categorically false that other major productions pay their principal producers a salary or set up coffee-licensing deals.

“Fortunately, CBS, which has always been profoundly generous to fan productions, held its fire, refusing to kill off the other shows Mr. Peters offered as bait. There was one major casualty – the people behind the brilliant Star Trek: Horizon were asked to cancel a planned fundraiser for a sequel — but CBS’s easiest path in December would have been to send cease-and-desist orders to ALL fan projects in one fell swoop. That they did not is a profound testament to CBS/Paramount’s steadfast support of the Star Trek fan community… even when it makes things awkward for them, even when they do not get much credit for it in the media, and, yes, even when the fans themselves do not recognize how good we have it. (For goodness’ sake, CBS has tolerated *Kickstarters* for the past several years! That alone shows how much CBS trusts and respects Star Trek fans, especially compared to other studios.)

“Star Trek Excelsior made the decision in December to avoid public comment on the Axanar lawsuit. While we support CBS/Paramount’s efforts to defend their intellectual property in a court of law against any and all for-profit, unfair use, we did not see how our “taking a stand” on Axanar would help CBS/Paramount in any way. It would only generate more drama for journalists to report on. We didn’t think CBS/Paramount would want that. We certainly don’t: the sooner this case ends and the less attention it gets, the less damage Mr. Peters and Axanar will be able to do to the worldwide fan-film community, which Mr. Peters and Axanar gravely imperiled. And so we at Excelsior remained silent, even as the lawsuit (to our chagrin) dragged on and on. However, yesterday, news broke (story below) that Mr. Peters is trying to organize Star Trek fan productions to support a set of proposed “fan film guidelines” that he has created, apparently in the hope that he will be able to represent his proposal to CBS/Paramount as having widespread support among fan producers as a sort of “compromise” between CBS and Axanar. This apparent attempt by Axanar to speak on our behalf forces us to break our silence and publicly clarify our position.

“Neither Mr. Peters nor anyone at Axanar Productions has contacted Excelsior Productions or any of its principals about any proposed guidelines. However, even if we had been contacted, we would have refused to participate in discussion of Axanar’s proposal, and we hereby publicly repudiate any proposal Axanar Productions purports to make on our behalf. CBS/Paramount has not, to date, asked for any fan input into any potential fan film guidelines, and we do not presume to offer any to them without their express invitation. Even if CBS/Paramount *were* to invite fan input, we would not consider Mr. Peters a trustworthy, reliable, or community-minded representative. We encourage other fan producers to join us in this firm repudiation, so that Mr. Peters’ presumption that he speaks for the fan film community is rightly discredited in the eyes of the public, the media, the court, and CBS/Paramount.

“Star Trek: Excelsior looks forward, with CBS/Paramount, to the swift and final resolution of this unfortunate chapter in the history of Star Trek fan productions.”16)
Starship Ajax
Not invited to participate.

“We consider ourselves to be lucky & blessed that CBS/Paramount allow us to play in their ‘sandbox,’ said producer J.C. England. “A dash of common sense is all that is needed to be able to do that without drawing their attention. These projects are hobbies, not businesses, and they must be treated as such in all aspects.”17)
Starship Farragut
“I reviewed the suggested guidelines and provided two comments,” said producer John Broughton. “That’s the extent of my involvement, which should not be construed as pro-Axanar or against Paramount/CBS Television.”18)
Star Trek: Constellation
Not invited to participate.

Producer Joe Geragi wrote: “We stand with CBS as Star Trek is 100% their property. We were honored that they allowed fan films to celebrate the legacy of Star Trek until Axanar took advantage of their goodwill.”19)
Star Trek Phoenix
Not invited to participate.

Star Trek Phoenix tweet: ”@CBSTVStudios @ParamountPics : Bottom line…fan production “Guidelines” rejected. Official response will be released on Tuesday”

Formal statement pending.


RALLYING BANNER of Axanar’s supporters.

No Formal Statement

Star Trek: Renegades
Invited to participate

Co-producer Tom Moore told AxaMonitor that Renegades was not officially involved in the discussion and that the production wanted nothing to do with Alec Peters and Axanar.20) His public comments, he said, reflect only his personal opinion.21)

While he participated in the Facebook discussion, co-producer Ryan Husk told AxaMonitor he did so representing no specific fan production. Peters, however, had identified Husk to other invitees as being affiliated with Renegades.22)

Husk further clarified his position: “I’m not a part of this, never wanted a part in this, and explicitly stated that fact. … I am not ‘of Renegades,’ nor do I rep Renegades in any way. Look at my imdb and you’ll see just how many fan films I’ve worked on as an actor, producer, and crew — not to mention the ones that are not on imdb. Anything I do or say, is speaking on behalf of myself alone.”23)

  • Yorktown

Supports Axanar

Star Trek Ambush
Took part in the Facebook group chat.

“OFFICIAL STATEMENT FROM GREG LOCK:
“Yesterday, my name and Ambush was mentioned in an article regarding the lawsuit against Axanar, and Alec Peters proposing guidelines that all fan films can work too. The article implemented myself and several other fan film producers as having “talks”. I feel it necessary to issue a statement.

“Firstly, I am not involved in anyway as having talks with CBS/Paramount regarding any future guidelines for Star Trek Fan Films. Alec had some ideas for potential guidelines and invited me into a Facebook discussion group to see what my thoughts were. Somehow the entire message thread was leaked to some sources, especially Axanar Haters and damming articles followed. This message leak was a breach of confidentiality and we are all very angry about this. I did not feel that Alec’s actions were unreasonable; he was not telling CBS what to do in my opinion and, if anything, it seemed as always that he wanted to help in anyway he can to facilitate the continuation of fan films. It was quite clear that he was not going to “storm” into the offices of CBS and make demands, far from it. He was also taking advice from his own legal team, still representing him pro-bono who have nothing but Axanar’s future in their interests. I therefore did not feel that Alec putting feelers out to see what kind of guidelines we would be happy with to be unjustified.

“I did not feel that the guidelines were unreasonable, for starters if guidelines like those are imposed they will not affect what I have planned for Ambush at all, and would allow me not to worry about possible repercussions. I also felt that the guidelines would not drastically change the plans of much larger ongoing fan films I know of. I will adhere to any guidelines that CBS impose, whether they are drawn from Alec’s input or not. My thoughts were that if those were the kind of guidelines we would have, I would be okay with that, which is what I expressed to the other producers in the thread. That is the extent of my personal involvement in this matter.

“Because of this, it would appear that Axanar and Alec Peters have attracted lots more heat with accusations that he would ruin the future of fan films etc. I am not involved with Axanar, I do not read the finance reports and I try to avoid any strong opinion making on Alec and other fan film producers. At the end of the day we are all in this for our love of Star Trek and we should be united for that one reason. All I will say is this: 2 years ago when I started Ambush up I was completely new to this game, I was just a Star Trek fan with a Film Production Degree who admired the work that went into fan films and wanted to do something myself. Our Kickstarter was launched during the Kickstarter for Prelude to Axanar, I watched their pitch as research for setting up my own and first Kickstarter and was blown away with what I saw. I wanted to network with other fan film makers but figured best stay away from Axanar, as they were obviously in a different league, although the team I have at Ambush are also professional film makers and really getting some great stuff done which I cannot wait for you all to see. I reached out to other fan film makers, I will not say which ones, but basically no one seemed interested in what we were doing. Then Alec reached out to us, he had seen our pitch and was impressed very much, I believed he was most impressed with the originality and new design work we showcased in our Kickstarter. At this point we had already reached our minimum fund-raising goal, but he still wanted to help. Without me even bringing it up he gave us a massive publicity boost which helped get us beyond our stretch goals and since then he has shown nothing but full support of what we are doing at Ambush. Over the last 2 years we have had nothing but gracious support from the Axanar team.

“Now I do not know Alec as well as others, I do not follow the ongoing legal battle in great depth or read every article about Axanar, I have a full time job and many other things going whilst also doing Ambush in my spare time. I certainly do not have any insider knowledge as to what is going on behind the scenes with Axanar. All I do know is, Axanar looks amazing, I want to see it made, period. It does cost a lot of money to make films of high quality. At Ambush we have been very lucky to have warehouse space donated to us to allow us to build sets. A donation that has currently saved us over £24,000! If that was not a donation we wouldn’t be able to make the film we are making. Axanar is not the only fan film I have pledged to, there are many others that are also looking great. I believe in what we are doing as fan film makers and feel that in this day and age with the technology that is accessible, making fan films of this high quality is just the next step in the fandom of Star Trek that has kept the franchise alive for the last 50 years. In the 2 years I have known Alec and the Axanar team, they have showed nothing but support for my own film and many others, so that is what I base my opinion on.

“As always thank you all for your support of Ambush and your patience, we are working on getting some unique and special updates from last shoot to you in the near future.24)


Keywords

1)
“Forging Fan Film Guidelines,” Hubcap Dave blog, 5/27/16.
2)
Private Facebook message from John Atkin to AxaMonitor editor Carlos Pedraza, 5/27/16.
10)
Jim Bray, in press release from Star Trek: Anthology, retrieved 5/31/16.
11)
add citation here
19)
Private Facebook message from Joe Geragi to AxaMonitor editor Carlos Pedraza, 5/31/16.
20)
Private message via TrekBBS from Tom Moore to AxaMonitor editor Carlos Pedraza, 5/31/16.